Pretoria – Education unions have welcomed several aspects of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Zuma delivered his fourth SONA
to a joint sitting of parliament last night.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) said while it agreed with some of the issues highlighted by Zuma, including increasing the number of learners entering Grade R, it stressed that there was a need for government to look at the issue of improving basic services for foundation phase teachers.
“They don’t get full recognition like other teachers in other grades. We also welcome the announcement on housing subsidy as most teachers fall in that category,” said SADTU spokesperson Nomusa Cembi.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) spokesperson, Ezrah Ramasehla, also welcomed the President’s speech, noting that the 2011 matric pass rate was cited as evidence that the intensive focus on education was paying off.
However, he warned that the country must not allow the increase in the pass rate to blind it to the ongoing crisis that still exists in education.
“The Annual National Assessment (ANA) results of 2011 were appalling, the provision of workbooks and school infrastructure remain a challenge and the poor administrative and curricular support on the part of so many districts are some of the issues which continue to confront us,” said Ramasehla.
The school drop-out rate, said Ramasehla, was an alarming problem.
He supported the President’s renewed call for teachers to be in class, on time, teaching for seven hours a day.
“The investment in producing more teachers who can teach mathematics, science and African languages is also welcomed.”
Echoing SADTU’s sentiments on the issue of Grade R teachers, Ramasehla stated that while the increase in Grade R enrolments - from 300 000 in 2003 to 705 000 in 2011 - was a major achievement, NAPTOSA was concerned with the capacity and qualification of most of the current Grade R practitioners.
“NAPTOSA believes that to provide quality education at this level, a professionally qualified educator is necessary. Focus should be on quality teaching and learning as opposed to meeting a target of 100 percent coverage for Grade R by 2014,” he said.
While welcoming President Zuma’s emphasis on job creation and the improvement of infrastructure, AfriForum said they had noted that to produce employable individuals, this had to be matched by good quality education.
AfriForum Deputy CEO Alana Bailey said: “The ANA of 2011 revealed that 70 percent of the country’s learners could not achieve the expected levels of literacy and numeracy. The President mentioned that the matric pass rate is increasing, but this [is not reassuring] as experts expressed serious doubts about the 2011 matriculants’ levels of competency in these fields as well.” - BuaNews